Startups speak out: the experience and impact of Opentop’s program

    14/02/2024. Our customized programs for startups are aimed at business creation, innovation, access to a sector as powerful as the logistics-port sector and, of course, support for the team behind each company. Today we interviewed some of the startups that have gone through Opentop to learn about their experience and advice.

    The time to live an experience like this is now, as our Business Growth Program is open to you until 3 March 2024, register your startup!

    Get to know in detail the experience of Gandolapp, represented by Carlos Rosales, CTO and Co-founder and José Manual Juan CEO and Co-founder of the company; We Are Lab, represented by Marc Masmiquel, CEO, researcher and co-founder of the company; Canonical Green, where we talked to Daniel Precioso, Lead Data Scientist of the company; and Sensing Tools, where we talked to Héctor Fernández Bueno, CEO of the company.

    How was your time at Opentop? What is the most valuable thing you got out of being part of the Opentop ecosystem?

    Gandolapp: It was a great boost for Gandolapp. It made us connect with the innovative port-logistics ecosystem, not only in Valencia but also in other areas of Spain. We learned from other startups, from the mentoring, from the numerous events and from the Opentop staff, who always orchestrated very well the connection of startups with customers, authorities, investors, suppliers and other agents.

    We Are Lab: The company I confused (We Are Lab) was selected, and despite being from Mallorca, we decided to join, open to learning. The most valuable thing is the human factor, without a doubt.

    Canonical Green: My time at Opentop has been a great success. Canonical Green has evolved enormously thanks to this programme. Opentop has given us mentoring in the areas where we were weakest, and has also opened up many opportunities for funding and collaboration. The challenge it established with Boluda has been key to developing our project.

    Sensing Tools: The passage of Sensing Tools through the Opentop acceleration programme was a real success, marking a significant milestone in our development and growth. The opportunity to validate our technology in such a dynamic and demanding environment as the Port of Valencia was fundamental. This not only reaffirmed the effectiveness and value of our proposal, but also allowed us to demonstrate its applicability and potential in a real and operational context.

    Direct contact with leading port stakeholders was another of the great advantages of our participation in Opentop. This access allowed us to better understand the specific needs of the port sector, to adjust our offer accordingly and, above all, to establish valuable communications that have been crucial to our progress.

    However, the highlight of our Opentop experience was undoubtedly the close relationship we were able to establish with our partner, the Port Authority of Valencia. This collaboration has been fundamental for us, not only from a commercial point of view, where we are already seeing tangible results, but also in terms of credibility and visibility in the sector. The trust and support we have received from such a relevant player in the port industry not only validates our solution, but also opens doors for future collaborations and business opportunities. This relationship is a clear example of how participation in a high-level acceleration programme like Opentop can translate into real and sustained benefits for innovative startups like ours.


    What values do you consider most valuable for an entrepreneur?

    Gandolapp: Integrity, ethics and resilience.

    We Are Lab: You are never fully prepared, you have to jump in. There is never a network, you need courage, the rest are excuses. And at the same time, you should never betray your principles and priorities; there is no point in being a successful startup if you have a heart attack. Balance is fundamental, and of course, may your strength be with you.

    Canonical Green: I feel that the most important thing is to have an open mind and be willing to absorb as much knowledge as possible. Entrepreneurship requires you to be able to handle technical, legal, administrative and business issues… You need to learn fast.

    Sensing Tools: We believe that the most essential values for an entrepreneur are perseverance, adaptability and vision. So are the ability to listen and learn constantly, not only from mentors and other entrepreneurs but also from customers and users. Finally, resilience in the face of failure and the ability to maintain a positive attitude in the face of challenges are equally important.

    What would you say to an entrepreneur who is considering applying for the new Opentop call?

    Gandolapp: If you are looking for a boost linked to the port sector, which is difficult to achieve directly, due to the lack of brand recognition, undeveloped product and lack of network that startups tend to have in their early stages, Opentop will give you the opportunity to advance several of these stages in the growth curve to connect with large companies and even make proofs of concept in a real environment.

    We Are Lab: It’s taking too long, we have to take advantage of all the wind at our back!

    Canonical Green: Take advantage of Opentop’s privileged position in the port of Valencia. If your idea has to do with the maritime sector or the transport chain, don’t hesitate and go to Opentop!

    Sensing Tools: I would definitely encourage any entrepreneur to sign up for the new Opentop call. It is a unique opportunity to accelerate your project through quality mentoring, access to funding and, above all, the possibility to establish strategic relationships with corporates and other key players in the port industry.


    In Opentop you have direct contact with the industry, how was this contact in your case?

    Gandolapp: We were able to connect directly with the main port terminal of the 4th port with the highest volume of containers in Europe. This was a great milestone in terms of learning, which we were able to turn into a new Gandolapp product that we will continue to promote in other ports. The terminal staff was instrumental in this journey, from the preparation meetings and discussion of the issues, to the proof of concept in the real terminal environment, where they dedicated a lot of resources to make the test go as well as possible. Subsequently, it gave us the opportunity to offer this solution to the terminal itself, thus closing the business cycle necessary for the continuity of a start-up.

    We Are Lab: The contact was indirect, and it was not as successful as we had hoped, but that is also a learning experience. We all know that things in the palace go slowly. Failure, even if it is a cliché, is actually a signal from your environment that tells you loud and clear: «don’t go this way». Sun Tzu has been saying for millennia: «know your enemy». I am not saying that the customer is your enemy, no, but the sale of your solution must be approached strategically. For example, it is better to give up a grant to do part of your project than to work for free. It is better to sharpen your strategy and take the right, brave, focused steps.  

    Canonical Green: Very satisfying. We, Canonical Green, participated in a challenge with Boluda Towage. The objective was to use our route optimisation models (our «Google Maps of the sea») to improve the operations of their towing vessels. Boluda was very satisfied with our simulations, and they want to start a pilot with us. Opentop has found us our first early adopter.

    Sensing Tools: In our case, the direct contact with the industry during our participation in the Opentop programme was exceptionally beneficial. We had the opportunity to interact closely with leading port stakeholders, which allowed us not only to present our technology, but also to receive valuable feedback directly from industry professionals and experts.This direct interaction was crucial to gain a thorough understanding of the specific needs and challenges of the port environment. It is making it easier for us to adapt our offer to ensure that it responds effectively to market requirements. Beyond technological validation, this direct contact opened doors for us to establish business relationships.

    We would especially highlight our relationship with the Port Authority of Valencia, the partner of our challenge. This collaboration has been particularly fruitful, leading to the implementation of our technology and opening up new avenues of business. The ability to work hand in hand with such a relevant partner has been a direct result of our participation in Opentop, demonstrating the immense value of being directly connected to the industry.


    How do you see the relationship between corporates and startups today, and what can be done to further improve this collaboration?

    Gandolapp: The big challenge between the two is to get corporates to bet more on the innovative ideas of startups, which is still an experimental process. We often come across startups with innovative ideas, but they don’t survive because corporations take a long time to implement their solutions or because they don’t want to invest until they have tested the startup’s proposed solution for a long time. This makes the path for startups unsustainable in terms of resources, which tend to be quite limited in the early stages. When we look at other countries, such as the USA or China, it is clear that large corporations fund innovation by building bridges for startups so that they can innovate in-house, with internal company resources, equipment, structures and so on. This process makes the startup life cycle sustainable and it is no coincidence that these countries are world leaders in technological innovation.

    We Are Lab: It could get better. In order to strengthen ties and make them operational, companies must support startups; this is undoubtedly the way forward.

    Canonical Green: I notice a certain lack of interest on the part of corporations, especially in the early days of the programme. However, Opentop has done a great job in acting as an intermediary between the two and maintaining the connection.

    Sensing Tools: The relationship between corporates and startups has improved significantly in recent years, with many established companies seeing startups not as a threat, but as a source of innovation and agility. To further improve this collaboration, it is essential to establish clear communication channels and flexible cooperation mechanisms that allow both parties to benefit from each other. In addition, fostering a culture of open innovation in corporations can help overcome bureaucratic barriers and accelerate the collaboration process. In short, it is essential to promote more programmes that foster such collaborations like Opentop.

    If you liked to know in detail the experience of the Opentop programmes of the startups Gandolapp, We Are Lab, Canonical Green and Sensing Tools, now is the time to live it in first person!

    Our Business Growth Program is open to you until 3 March 2024, register your startup!


    Startup Experience